The steady rainfall throughout the game had been measured enough to allow half the game to be played, but his stubbornness was taking its toll. Pools have formed around the infield. The cold of a gametime temperature of 54 degrees sank deeper into the uniforms of those in the field.
With the Red Sox and Marlins tied 2-2, the game had entered what felt like a stoppage time – with the players risking giving way to a tarp at any point. With the Red Sox in the second and third out and one out, Verdugo had a golden opportunity to fend off what likely looked like the winning set just by putting the ball into play.
Verdugo declined this discreet strategy. Instead, he stayed on a curve ball from Miami right-hander Cody Poteet and launched a rocket over the visitors’ paddock and into the right stands for a 5-2 advantage.
That score became final half an inning later when Red Sox reliever Adam Ottavino sailed through nearly impossible pitching conditions – he walked three batters – knocking out second goal for Marlins and Springfield native Isan Díaz for finish first in the sixth. Ups called for the tarp, and after 1 hour 25 minutes, called the contest.
The mere ability to finish a game was something of a win for both teams, with the Marlins’ only visit to Boston this year calling for an endless weekend deluge. Still, the result was significant for two teams within easy reach of the top of their divisions.
With questions about the potential length of the game, the opening proved worrying for the Red Sox. Marlins left Corey Dickerson chained a change from Martín Pérez for a single to lead the runner-up, then came home when Jorgé Alfaro detonated a thigh cutter that remained above the plate in the opposite field, dropping him into the Marlins’ pen for his first. home run of the season and a 2-0 lead.
But Pérez (3-2, 3.55) settled from that point, allowing just two of the next 14 batters to reach – while wiping out one of those on a double play. In five innings in avoiding raindrops, he allowed just those two runs on five non-walking hits and striking out four. The outing was his sixth in a row of at least five innings and allowed three runs or less, a length in which he has a 2.43 ERA.
The Sox offensive, meanwhile, got on the right track at the end of the third. Renfroe (2 for 2 with two doubles on Friday, .286 / .302 / .536 with 11 more hits in May) started an equalizer rally by breaking a double one out on the left field line. Kiké Hernández walked on, and after Verdugo took off, JD Martinez crushed a two-point brace down center to tie the game 2-2.
As Poteet passed the fourth, Renfroe played a key role in the decisive rally in the fifth. After Marwin Gonzalez walked to lead the heat, Renfroe doubled down on the left to place the runners second and third.
Offered a chance to drive in the starting race, Hernández jumped out of his shoes on a swing on a fastball on the first pitch, then dismissed his bat in disgust when he jumped onto the field. Undeterred by his teammate’s aggressiveness, Verdugo also swung on a first pitch – with very different results.
His three-run homerun clocked at 108.7 mph – the fourth hardest-hit homerun of his career. It was his seventh longball of the year and his second of the season on a first court.
Still, with the referees opting to let the game go into the sixth inning, the Red Sox were not guaranteed victory even with the three-point advantage. Cora, acknowledging the game was played with a draining hourglass, called in Ottavino, the main set-up manager, for the sixth, the right-hander’s first entry in a game this year.
Although Ottavino recorded two quick strikeouts, his grip on the ball and his lead became slippery. As the rain began to intensify, a bewildered Ottavino periodically shook the water out of his hat, a frustrating focus on a stretch in which he missed the strike zone with 12 of 13 throws – charging bases over three steps. The conditions were almost unplayable.
But Ottavino managed to regain command for exactly three final throws, all sliders, to knock out Díaz for the final in what turned out to be the right-hander’s second stoppage of the season. The referees then summoned the tarp and the teams retired for the night.
When they come back, it will be to a new reality. Attendance was announced at 9,005 on Friday. On Saturday, the baseball stadium’s COVID-19 capacity restriction will end, offering a boost of hope that extends beyond anything happening on the field. legendary – and, for now, drenched – from Fenway.